Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has refuted claims that a nurse at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital who tested positive for Covid-19, has come into contact with patients at the facility.
This follows a statement by the Public Servants Association (PSA) which stated that the nurse in question had been on night shift when he alerted the hospital management of his Covid-19 results.
PSA Provincial Manager John Teffo told Polokwane Observer that after the first nurse tested positive, one of his co-workers also tested positive but were told to still report for duty.
“This reckless behaviour is against health protocol, which dictates that approval should be granted in accordance with Public Service Regulation 51. This applies to all employees who worked closely with the affected employee so that they can self-quarantine for a period of 14 days to ensure that the infection does not spread.”
The PSA has called for the temporary closing down of the hospital, along with the disinfection of the entire premises.
“The PSA calls upon the MEC to ensure consequence management for this irresponsible and dangerous omission, which is a health hazard to employees and their families. This is tantamount to premeditated murder as management should know better than to risk employees’ lives.”
Ramathuba however, told Polokwane Observer that the nurse was on seven days’ leave when the hospital was alerted of his positive results.
“The nurse had not been in contact with anyone other than close family during his leave period, subsequently easing the contact-tracing. The guidelines we follow stipulate that a close contact is someone who had been in contact with the infected person over seven days.”
Ramathuba says the department tested all family members who were in contact with the nurse and none was found to be positive.
“The nurse was immediately isolated before reporting for duty. He is currently at the Modimolle regional hospital.”
The MEC has frowned upon allegations by the PSA stating the association will, through the statement, cause panic and the stigmitisation of healthcare professionals.
“The nurse tested at home, and we commend him for alerting the department but if we allow the stigmatisation to continue, nurses will be hesitant to alert the department should they test positive.”
She concluded by saying the department is expecting a rise in Covid-19 cases but added that the system was capable of helping patients to recover.
Story and Photo: Umpha Manenzhe